Saturday, March 6, 2010

J Kaplan Hearing Transcripts Feb 17, 2010

Next we have two nominees to be senior judges. First is the Honorable Jonathan J. Kaplan of South Windsor.

Good afternoon, your Honor.

Please raise your right hand. Do you swear the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

REP. LAWLOR: It's customary to open with an opening statement, if you choose to?
My name is Jonathan Kaplan, and I've been a judge of the Superior Court for 24 and a half years. My first appointment was November of 1985, which was an interim appointment. And my first eight-year appointment was 1986, which puts me on this cycle with the others.
I want to thank Governor Rell for renominating me for another eight-year term. And I want to thank the Committee for your patience. It has been a long day for all of you and all of us, and I thank you for your patience in waiting to hear from everybody.
During my 24 and a half years on the bench, I've served in almost every capacity throughout the system: Civil, Courtside Civil Jury, Criminal Part B, Criminal Part A, Housing Court, Habeas Corpus -- which is an area that very few judges get a chance to work in.
I've been a presiding judge in several different assignments, including GA 13 up in Enfield. And I've been a administrative judge for two separate five-year terms. I believe I'm the only judge in the State who's actually served two five-year terms, separated by my time in Enfield. In December of '08, I elected senior status, and I've been working as a senior judge since that time. And as a senior judge, I've worked exclusively on mediation of civil cases.
And currently, I'm mediating cases out of the Rockville District where I take -- the town judicial district, which is Rockville. But I take cases from courts around the state. And the settlement rate is running somewhere between 88 and 85 percent, which is pretty good percentage to alleviate the civil trial dockets. In fact, sometimes the judges -- trial judges are upset because they run out of work because the cases get settled.
I'd be happy to answer any questions Committee members may have.
REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Judge.
And both yourself and Judge Sequino are in this category called, senior judges, and I think --
REP. LAWLOR: -- there are people watching on CTN. They may not know what that actually means. And correct me if I'm wrong, but we have a mandatory retirement age of 70 for Superior Court judges. But prior to the time you turn 70, you can elect to become a senior judge where you'd work on a per diem basis.
REP. LAWLOR: And you're paid a rate of pay for that alone.
REP. LAWLOR: Is that essentially it? And you elected to take that status in December '08?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I elected December of '08. I was actually eligible in December of '05, but I stayed on as administrative judge for another year and a half and then December of '08, I -- for two and a half years, December '08, I took my position as senior Status, which allows me to work part-time or full-time, if I want. And the days that I work, I would earn a per diem in addition to the pension which I am already drawing.
The class that we went on together, which included Senior Judge Sequino but others who are here today, Judge Damiani, Judge Norko, myself, Judge Koletsky. We're all in the same class going on together. And we're all different stages at this point.
REP. LAWLOR: Got it.
Judge, you mention that you've done a fair amount of work in the Civil Court, in addition to the Criminal Court, and one question that has come up recently is that with the fiscal crisis that we're dealing with at the moment, there's been a number of cuts. One of the cuts is in funding to Legal Aid that helps provide attorneys for indigent persons in many civil cases including divorce cases and restraining orders, that type of thing. Do you -- have you noticed an impact, are there fewer legal aid attorneys available? Does -- are there more pro se or self-representing clients coming before the court now because of that?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I think the answer's yes. The problem with -- one of the problems with Legal Aid is that it was greatly funded by the IOLTA, the interest on lawyers trust funds accounts. And that's way down because interest rates are so low. So even if the same amount of money is on-deposit, the interest rate is probably one-fifth of what it was five years ago. And, therefore, there's a lot less money available for Legal Aid and other organizations that receive IOLTA funding. So that's part of the problem.
For many years, though, I've seen a reduction in Legal Aid lawyers available in civil cases, housing cases, family cases and other civil cases. It's picked up a little bit by lawyers who do pro bono work. We have a lot of lawyers in the state of Connecticut who do pro bono work.
REP. LAWLOR: "Pro bono" meaning --
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Not getting paid.
REP. LAWLOR: -- without charge.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Without charge. And they take some very difficult case and they handle them without charge, which is quite, quite good to see. But -- excuse me -- but you still see, I think, a lot more self-represented people today than you did, say, five years or 10 years ago. I'm sure that's reflection of the economy.
REP. LAWLOR: And some people have made the point -- I'm just curious if you share this opinion that people coming into court without a lawyer, representing themselves, it takes a lot more of the court's time, does it, to have to explain things to people, that type of thing. Is that the case?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Sure. And also, you have more interruptions because they may have to file certain documents. They don't understand that. So you reach a point in the hearing where you're asking for these documents. They don't have them. You have to recess, give them an opportunity to get documents. Sometimes, you have to continue the case. So it could probably take twice as long to try a case just because of the procedural difficulties.
One of the things that has made a tremendous difference in the system -- I've seen a lot of great improvements in the system through the years. One is the Court Service Centers. And I wish there was more money to have more Court Service Centers. They take pressure off of the Clerk's Offices. They take pressure off of the judges in the courts, and they present a wonderful benefit to self-represented people.
Court Service Centers, since they started running in every district where they exist, I think, have been a great success. Most districts -- when I was an administrative judge, I wanted a second Court Service Center. There was no money to do it. But, you know, I think it's a wonderful thing that we've done. And if we do, finally, get some decent funding, as Senator Kissel said, maybe around the corner or over the clouds for the couple years there'll be some more money, one of the first priorities might be adding Court Service Centers. They really are a great benefit.
REP. LAWLOR: And the centers are sort of, like, information booths but they help you understand how to fill out documents, which documents.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Fill out forms. The people who run the Court Service Centers, I believe in all districts, are notaries. If not, they would have access to a notary right near by so they can notarize documents. They actually have office setups. It's -- it's not legal services, as such, but they are definitely providing a benefit and a roadmap to people to get through the system.
REP. LAWLOR: They're not giving out legal advice?
REP. LAWLOR: They're just helping --
REP. LAWLOR: -- with procedural things.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: No. They're helping them fill out documents, which room to go to and who to talk to and that type of thing.
REP. LAWLOR: Got it. Okay.
Well, thank you very much, your Honor.
Are there any questions?
Senator Kissel.
SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
And sounds like similar concept to the Court Greeter Initiative that Judge Norko spoke about.
Can't believe you've been on the bench as long as you have, pretty much since I passed the bar exam. So we've been at this for a while now.
I know that you didn't discuss this in your opening statement and, to be honest, I've had these individuals write me over the years. It seems like this issue came up the last time you were before us, but it couldn't have been. So I just -- you don't have to if you don't want to, but there's two individuals that have contacted this committee regarding concerns that they have with your renomination. And I just want to offer you the opportunity, if you want to say anything about these matters, to give you that opportunity to do so now.
And the first one is regarding anything you may recall regarding Steven Erickson.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I'd be happy to take the opportunity to try to respond.
I can't control what people say. I can't control what people put on the Internet or what they say when they contact the Committee.
I received a document that presumably was submitted to the Committee members. I don't know but it was a 4-page document involving Mr. Erickson, and I read through it. And it is filled with half-truths, untruths. But I can't go through it item by item, arguing about it because it's simply going to be my word against his word. I presume he believes what he's saying. But he makes accusations that just are simply not true.
How else I could respond to it? I don't know. But if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them. But it's just -- it's very difficult. You can't prove a negative.
REP. LAWLOR: I -- I -- being in the world of politics, I understand that. Having gone through campaigns, it's very difficult. But, clearly, what you're stating here is that there is no merit to those allegations?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: That's correct. You know, one, just pulling one out because it's an easy example to talk about. He claims that I failed to recuse myself in presiding in his criminal jury trial. No motion was ever filed, to the best of my knowledge, by him or by his lawyer asking me to recuse myself. He claims I should have recused myself because some time prior to that criminal trial -- and I don't know if it was months or years -- he supposedly sent a letter to me complaining about something I did. I don't have a recollection of ever receiving that letter.
He filed a complaint against me, which was dismissed. And one of the things, I believe, in that complaint, he stated that the letter that he supposedly sent to me before this criminal trial, regarding a housing case, was anonymous. So how could I then know in six months or a year later, two years later, that this is somebody who complained about me if it was an anonymous complaint? As I said, he had a lawyer at his criminal trial, and the lawyer never asked me to recuse myself. Had he filed a motion, I would have dealt with the facts on the record, but there's no record because it was never raised.
Senator Kissel: Thank you very much, Your Honor.
And the other individual that's contacted us on a number of occasions regarding various members of the Judicial Branch whom I believe may be in the room today -- but -- regarding Christopher Kennedy if you have any recollection of any allegations made by that individual.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: By the volume of comments that you've received through the years and things that I've seen on the Internet and elsewhere, you would think that I've had contact with Mr. Kennedy continuously for the last ten years. I had contact with him for about six months.
I handled a restraining order that some other judge had signed ex parte. I handled the hearing to see whether or not it should be dissolved, modified, or continued. He represented himself. I believe that his ex-wife was represented in that hearing, but I can't recall. I think so. And I gave him all the latitude in the world to make his case.
At the end of the hearing, I just decided, one, that I relaxed the restraining order with respect to the visitation of his two daughters because there were no allegations of violence toward them, and I continued the restraining order with respect to visitation with his son because there was a finding that there was violence toward him.
Several weeks, I believe, maybe a month or so later, he went to the court in Hartford and took out an application for restraining order -- and the hearing, by the way, that I talked about was in Rockville. He went to Hartford and took out a restraining order, applied for a restraining order. Failed to disclose the Rockville case, which is required. And there's a box indicating whether or not there has been a -- anybody in the case has been a witness in a case within the last six months, I think, and he checked "no." And the hearing, obviously, had taken place three or four weeks earlier.
As a result of that, he got a ex parte order giving him sole custody of his three children. I got a call from a state trooper who was called by a principal of the school saying, there's two orders here; They're in conflict with each other; What's going on?
That was the first I knew that he had secured this other order. I quickly did a -- a little investigation to -- excuse me -- find out, and I determined that a Hartford family judge had signed this order but, again, had no knowledge of the other pending case. That judge rescinded that order, and the -- I signed an ex parte order that returned the custody back to the mother.
Because he had falsified information in that application for his restraining order and custody order, I reported that to the State's Attorney's Office in Hartford and, ultimately, he was arrested for perjury. Those charges, I believe, were ultimately disposed of through an application for accelerated rehabilitation.
That is the long and the short of my contact with Mr. Kennedy. But through the years, he keeps repeating the same allegations over and over. Therefore, it seems like it's been continuous contact. It just has not. And -- and by the way, he did file a Judicial Review complaint against me, which was dismissed because of lapse of time.
SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you very much, Your Honor.
And I think it's helpful to hear your side of the story. When I looked at the additional information you provided, and it indicated that the matter regarding Mr. Erickson was from 2003 and the matter regarding Mr. Kennedy was 2005, I was -- I, too, was surprised because I feel like we've been sort of -- at least members of this committee have been receiving information about this for many, many years. And to note that in one instance it was seven years ago, and in another instance it was five years ago. It just seems like it -- I agree with you that it seems like it has been over a longer period of time.
I know that probably wasn't fun for you. I appreciate that fact.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I don't think the hearings are intended to be fun, but I --
SENATOR KISSEL: No, but I also think it's important for the public to know that there may be areas that -- that are, you know, problematic and that everybody has due process rights to come to speak to this committee. We want to hear all sides of the story. Some of them are easier to -- to sort of parse out than others.
But, you know, I've had knowledge of your experience in the courts from people that have practiced before you, but, at the same time, I think it's important that we look into everything and take everything as objectively as humanly possible. And so you've answered my questions, and I appreciate your candor this afternoon --
SENATOR KISSEL: -- in doing that. Your Honor.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Thank you, Senator Kissel.
SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. LAWLOR: Further questions?
Representative Gonzalez.
REP. GONZALEZ: Good afternoon, Judge Kaplan.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Good afternoon or good evening, I'm not sure which.
REP. GONZALEZ: Judge, I feel that you're famous. If you go to Google, your name will come up, Judge Kaplan. And I think it's a lot of questions. I think it's a lot of concern because it's a lot of allegations against you.
And some of those allegations are that you have told the defendant before you've finished the case, You're guilty and you're going to prison. And they said that, you know, people are scared of you in Rockville court. And also, allegations are that you place papers in legal files in a court to influence the outcome of cases, different cases, when for some reason you don't like the defendant.
There's so many allegations against you, Judge, that I -- I believe that members, some members, they were concerned.
And in the beginning, I thought that it's nothing against big guys, but I thought he was a big judge. And I, when I saw you today, I said, You know, something's wrong.
But I would like for you to explain a little bit about those complaints. I think that if me asking questions, you know, knowing that, well, allegations saying that if any -- any person get in front of you and asked questions that you don't like or any attorney that don't agree with you, you go after that attorney. You call some defendant's job. You make them lose the job. You go after district attorneys. You put them in jail. God, there are so many complaints against you, Judge, that I would like for you to explain what's going on out there.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Thank you for asking the question, which gives me the opportune -- opportunity to explain.
The allegations that you're talking about, once again, come from two people. And they have made these statements over and over again, to the point where people sometimes think they may be true when they're not. There are allegations that I -- one of them that I told his lawyer to stop representing him. That's just simply not true. I never said that. I never would. I -- I -- it just didn't happen.
There was one -- one allegation one of these people made was that I stuck my tongue out at him. Anybody who knows me just knows that's not how I operate. If anything, I tend to get quiet when I've been angry not -- I don't yell at people. And I -- sometimes in court, either lawyers or sometimes the clerks will say to me, why do let so and so go on for so long? I let people talk very -- many times for two or three times what they should be allowed to talk to give them the opportunity to get their point of view on the record. So when they said that I -- I've cut them off and I didn't allow them to speak or I didn't allow their lawyers to put on a case, it's just not true.
I could tell you the one who claims that I told him something about he was guilty and he was going to go to jail before the trial was over, It's -- I think, notable that his lawyer is not here making that same allegation because the lawyer could not make that allegation in good faith. It's just not true.
So, again, it's very difficult to prove a negative but these allegations have been floated time and time again by two individuals. And I probably have come in contact with, I mean, in 25 years, I probably have come in contact with 15, 20,000 litigants. And yet two individuals make these comments over and over again. They think it becomes true simply because they're saying it. It's just not true.
REP. GONZALEZ: Judge, can you explain to me what is a habeas corpus?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Habeas corpus, under the statutory habeas corpus Statute that we have in Connecticut, is a postconviction filing asking for relief in a -- a case after a conviction of a crime.
There is other uses of habeas corpus: To bring a case into court from a probate court is one way of doing it is filing a habeas corpus petition, but the kind of habeas corpus that I'm talking about in town judicial district are postconviction cases. Most of them are claims, as one of the earlier, I think it was Judge Bishop said, of a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.
But one of the problems that develops through the years, as our law develops in this area, that you now have ineffective assistance claims of appellate counsel, of habeas counsel, of the clerks, you know, some claim that the clerks have done something wrong with the case, a judge has done something wrong in a case. So it's developed into a much broader area than a single petition saying, my conviction is illegal because --
And what they're talking about before with subsequent petitions being filed, I've had cases where there have been as many as seven habeas corpus petitions filed by one individual, basically, saying the same thing seven times over. Even though it was denied once, a year later they file another one. Six months later they file another one. Another year, they file another one, basically, making the same allegations.
REP. GONZALEZ: And my question is because I received a couple of phone calls saying that a inmates in Rockville, they been treated real bad. That they applied for habeas corpus and you keep denying. Every inmate that go before your court, that's one of the complaints out there.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: The -- that's very interesting because the habeas corpus docket in a town judicial district, while I was administrative judge, went from about 350 cases to 1700 or 1800 cases because we took the entire State's habeas corpus cases brought them to Rock -- Rockville. So I oversaw the management of that docket, which had it as high as about 1800 cases. I think under Judge Solomon, who's administrative judge now, I think the numbers are down to about 1500 cases, maybe even less.
So I authorized the filing of many of those petitions. When a habeas corpus petition is filed, it can be rejected or accepted. I rejected very few initially. Most of them were accepted. Sometimes, they'd get dismissed later on for some procedural reason; or sometimes, after a lawyer is appointed, the lawyer files a motion with the court to allow them to withdraw because the case is frivolous. And I have ruled on those motions.
So I couldn't give you a percentage that are approved for filing versus not approved, but it -- it would be a much higher percentage approved for filing than not approved for filing.
REP. GONZALEZ: And that was my next question about numbers. About -- I have here -- this is a Connecticut Trial Court official decision. And this is about an inmate that he was acquitted. And even if he was acquitted, he was committed to 20 years in prison.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Is that Mr. Dickenson?
REP. GONZALEZ: Yes, sir.
REP. GONZALEZ: Okay, and then even though he was acquitted, he was committed. And now after he finished his term, 20 years, now they are -- they are -- they are -- I based on this, they want to extend his time in jail for 60 more months --
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Not in jail, in a hospital.
REP. GONZALEZ: In a hospital. Can -- can -- even though that I read the whole thing and the doctor is saying here that he don't need no more medication, that he is not dangerous for him or anybody else. So why is that they want to extend 60 more months?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I ordered him released, ultimately.
REP. GONZALEZ: You order release?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I ordered him released.
I didn't do the original commitment, I don't think, on Mr. Dickenson. I can't remember because that was 20-some-odd years ago.
REP. GONZALEZ: Yes, yes.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I handled the petition to extend the commitment, and the State wanted to extend the commitment, I believe, four years, maybe five years, but I think it was four after his full 20 years had been served.
And I held a hearing and after hearing from the doctors, I determined that he should be released because there was no valid reason to continue to keep him in a hospital.
I think the problem there is that his personality conflicted with the people who were treating him at the hospital. He didn't follow the rules the way they wanted him to follow the rules; therefore, they didn't help re -- reorient him into society. So when it came up for the end of his term to see if he should be released or extended, they said, well, he hasn't integrated into society so he should be extended.
After the hearing, I determined that was not correct, not accurate, and I released him.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I think the extension, by agreement -- by the way, he had a lawyer and agreed to it, extension while he was being examined by a new psychiatrist, was about 14 months. But other -- other than that, I terminated it.
REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you, Judge.
Any other questions?
REP. LAWLOR: Any further questions?
Senator Gomes.
SENATOR GOMES: Good evening, Judge Kaplan.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Good evening, Senator.
SENATOR GOMES: Some material was placed in our hand today, and it was quite extensive and I read through it. If I found any credence in it, I would question you vehemently. I don't -- in all fairness to you, I don't find any credence in it, and I want to go on record to say I apologize for even reading it.
SENATOR GOMES: And like I said, if I found any credence in it, the charges that were in this document, I would have no qualms at all about questioning you. And I think in fairness, I should put -- on the other hand, I should declare that I don't think this sort of thing the next time something comes up it shouldn't be passed out. Thank you.
REP. LAWLOR: Representative Green next, then Representative Aman.
REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good evening, your Honor.
Just a couple of questions. I want to follow up on something about the habeas corpus. Can you tell me what is your opinion as to whether or not we should continue to have those in the state. Is that -- do you feel there's some issues of them, what's your opinion?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Absolutely, we should continue to have the Habeas Corpus Program. As Judge Bishop pointed out, it has been used to right some wrongs in the past. A case that he tried, a habeas corpus case, he found a petitioner who would be a defendant in a criminal case, is a petitioner in a habeas corpus case, was actually innocent and he was released from prison after, I think, 15, 16 years. That proves that there are cases that require this sort of postconviction look.
The problem is there are a fair number of frivolous cases. There are a fair number of cases filed in multiples over a period of years. But I think we should work within the existing system to find some way to deal with the problem cases as opposed to throwing out the whole system because habeas corpus is deeply rooted in American jurisprudence and, in Connecticut, by statute as well the common law so I think we should maybe improve what we have but we should certainly not throw out the system.
REP. GREEN: Can you maybe give me an example of how you may feel something -- one of those -- the process might be deemed to be frivolous? I mean, at what -- is it because of the number, is it because of the type, is it because of the time line, they do it every six months, I mean, what would make it frivolous?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Well, sometimes you have a case where a inmate files a habeas corpus petition. There's a hearing held. It's denied based on the facts presented at the hearing. Goes up on appeal, it's affirmed on appeal, and then he files another one with basically the same allegations.
I, literally, I had one case where there were seven petitions filed over about a five-year period making the exact same allegations each time after hearings were held and concluded. Finally, one of the lawyers appointed to represent that petitioner filed a motion to be allowed to withdraw as counsel based upon the fact that the claims were frivolous.
We have a statutory procedure for that -- a Practice Book procedure, I stand corrected, for that. And the filing is called an Anders brief, A-n-d-e-r-s, based upon a California case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that's a whole separate procedure.
When the presiding judge of habeas or, in Rockville, usually the administrative judge does, and that's why since I was administrative judge 10 years, I handled probably about 200 Anders files during that period of time. The judge reviews everything: The record, the files, all the documents, all the pleadings; makes a determination that the case is frivolous, allows the lawyer to withdraw and then allows the petitioner to either proceed pro se or sometimes to appoint a new counsel, but it's pretty unusual to appoint new counsel.
REP. GREEN: In the situation that you described that someone was able to get, it sounded like two different orders from two different judges, could that happen still in our system? Have we -- did we learn anything from that process?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: We -- we definitely learned from the process, and I don't -- I presume it's still in effect. But shortly after that, we got some of the presiding family judges together and talked about when somebody comes in making an application for an ex parte order like that, that somebody in the clerk's office runs the file through the system to find out if there are any other pending cases. Had that been done in that case, that would have been picked up instantly. And I think the result would have been very different.
REP. GREEN: Have you heard about any other cases where something like that happened after this situation?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I haven't, but I also haven't been sitting on family for several years now. Therefore, I would not necessarily be privy to that information.
REP. GREEN: Okay. Just two more questions.
You had mentioned something and it sounded like you were concerned about individuals coming in court and maybe trying to represent themselves, and I just -- I guess I have some concern with the court proceedings, especially when individuals who had no contact with courts, never been arrested, really never been in the system, first come into the system. And I think a lot of times you come in the system believing sometimes what you see on TV in the Perry Mason and stuff is that, you know, you're going to come in and there's going to be a sense of fairness, a sense of justice. And -- and you go in and you almost treated like a criminal for the first time. So what happens is that, I think, a lot of people, who -- who, you know, regardless if you're innocent. They believe they're innocent. They come in and say, well, you know, once I go in and present my case, they'll see that I'm innocent. And it's not like that.
And so I didn't know if you're saying that there's some other things we can do to help people understand the process? People -- or were will you recommending or suggesting that people should not represent themselves. And I'm trying -- I'm trying to get at how can the court be better at trying to, in a sense, help those individuals who might be new to court.
I could go to the court system and look around and tell a family or individual who's there for the first time --
REP. GREEN: -- versus somebody who has -- who knows the system. And I'm wondering does the court do any of that to try to maybe assist some people, regardless of guilt or innocence, but through the process? Should the courts have any of that responsibility or no?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Yes. I think that Court Service Centers do that to some extent but not -- they don't cross the line to give legal advice. They're not lawyers. But they can help somebody out understanding the process and the system, programs that they can apply for and that type of thing.
Most of the time on criminal cases, the defendant is better off being represented by counsel than representing themselves. But some people can do a good job representing themselves. But, most the time, even if a lawyer is charged with a crime, the lawyer would probably be well-advised to be represented by other counsel because it's hard to be objective when it's your own case.
And if you have -- if a lawyer is arrested and charged with a crime and is represented by counsel, they can have confidential communications where counsel could convince them that you've got a problem here and you have a problem where they might not see it themselves. So certainly, nonlawyers, pro se's, would be better off, most of the time, having counsel if they qualify for it.
REP. GREEN: So you strongly suggest that everyone have counsel when they come to court?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: It's a good idea.
And our public defender system in Connecticut is outstanding. So if people qualify for public defender services, they'll be entitled to a lawyer and they'll get good representation.
REP. GREEN: It seems to me, I mean, that -- that the times I've gone to court. You know, you get there early. You talk to the prosecutor and pretty much what the prosecutor decides it's -- it's kind of way it goes. But that's just -- I won't get into that.
And last question is that we had renominations, we have -- I've been on this committee long enough to see a lot of renominations. And I've always tried to be able to gauge or try to figure out what might help me to distinguish should I support someone for renomination or not. Could you, maybe give me one or two things that maybe, as a committee member, I should look for to decide how would I judge whether or not a judge should be renominated? What -- what do you think I should look for?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I think judicial temperament is one that obviously comes to mind very quickly. I think you want people on the bench who are patient and listen to people. I think you want people, obviously, who have the intelligence and the legal ability to do the job. That's important. But judicial temperament goes a long way to making somebody a good judge. If they are patient and they listen to people, it really makes a big difference.
REP. GREEN: All right. Thank you.
SENATOR MCDONALD: Is there anything further?
Representative -- Representative Aman.
REP. AMAN: Yes. Thank you.
Judge, back in 1985, when you originally were appointed to the bench and you testified, you talked at length about the fact that you were looking forward to serving as a judge and being able to handle a multitude of different type of cases and were going to be able to look at many different aspects of the law. Since 1985, we've had more and more specialized parts of the court, specialized dockets, et cetera, and I'm wondering from your experience over the last years, since 1985, do you think that trend toward special -- more of the judges specializing, is a good trend or a bad trend for -- for the State as a whole?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: I think you need a mix. Some judges are generalists and they'll do lots of different things, and that's good. They're very versatile. Again, being an administrative judge for 10 years, it was very important to me to be able to ask a judge, could you go over and try a family case today, could you try a habeas corpus case today? To have versatile judges do that is really very good for an administrator.
On the other hand, somebody, you know, Judge Skolnick earlier today was talking about doing asbestos litigation. You could become very skilled at doing one type of litigation like that and do a very good job. And that might be the kind of area that needs -- like complex lit, you need somebody who is willing to really sink their teeth into complex cases.
So it's good to have a balance of some judges who do a lot of different things. And I came from a background, as you know, I believe, from private practice so I have that general background. And the last 24 years, I've done that. I've sat in just about every area. And I've done administrative appeals, tax appeals, things like that from time to time. So, you know, I think, the balance is good. Some judges are a little more specialized; some judges are a little more generalized.
REP. AMAN: As the justices become specialized in a particular area, do they start developing a bias, especially in civil cases, that because they've seen the same type of case on a regular basis?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: Probably not. I think judges are skilled at not -- if they see -- see some biases probably enough they're skilled enough to deal with it. But I think what might happen is they may become attuned to certain aspects of a certain type of case.
You know, Judge Skolnick was talking about the summary judgment motions being filed by a lot of the defendants in asbestos cases. I'm sure after a while he knows which facts to look for in those motions to see whether or not he's going to grant them or deny them because of doing so many.
REP. AMAN: Thank you.
The subject of judicial temperament has been brought up several times, and I just want to make a comment about Judge Kaplan. I was very -- on the South Windsor Town Council and I may have been mayor at the time that Northeast Utilities wanted to put in some electric power lines. They went passed town hall. They went passed a very historic church in town. And so you could imagine the emotional part of a lot of people in the case that your were handling.
And I am delighted to say that while I heard an awful lot about that case and I heard an awful lot about what the church's position was and Northeast Utilities', what I never got from anybody was anything other than the judge who was handling it was treating the case with knowledge and fairness. So I definitely think on that case that I had experience with hearing about, you definitely meet the judicial temperament that I'm looking for it in a judge.
So --
REP. AMAN: Again, I thank you very much for your service over the many years.
In that case, I put on the record the first day that the power lines run behind my house. And they all agreed to let me hear the case anyway. And I think they were pleased with the outcome.
SENATOR MCDONALD: Representative Hewett.
REP. HEWETT: Good evening, your Honor.
REP. HEWETT: I was reading over the complaints against you. You have some serious -- this is book material, man. I mean, it takes a great amount of creativity to come up with some complaints like this.
And I just got one question I want to ask you. Is there ever been a time that you ran into Mr. Kennedy outside of your chambers, in the hallway, the bathroom? I mean, I'm pretty sure you used the same -- I don't know you probably have your own bathroom inside of those chambers. But, is there -- was there ever a time when you ran into each other in the hallway, anything like that?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: He makes claims that I have see him in the hallway and made comments to him and times stared him down. It's -- it's just not true. I can't stop him from making those comments. He's got a First Amendment right to say whatever he wants to say, true or not. But I certainly have never -- I may have passed him in the hallway. I walk through the hallway every day. And I pass from the Clerk's Office to the room I do my mediations in. I have to walk through a -- a hallway, or a lobby that most of the time has about 200 people in it. So I walk by people all the time. Some people whose cases I handled and they're not happy and other people who are glad to see me and say hello. So I may nod. I may say hello. I may smile. But I certainly have never threatened anybody or stared anybody down. And I know those allegations have been made. It's just not true.
REP. HEWETT: How about the parking spaces? Where you parked in a different parking lot than the people that go into court?
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: In one courthouse, yes; in one courthouse, no.
And I -- I read that comment and I -- I don't know where it's coming from. He has a vivid imagination. My thought is that it's easier to -- you said this in the beginning. It's easier to write fiction than nonfiction.
REP. HEWETT: And, you know, it's up to me whether I believe him or not, or whether I believe you. That -- that has a lot to do with temperament, also.
JUDGE JONATHAN J. KAPLAN: That's your job.
REP. HEWETT: I mean, you are looking me dead in my eyes. I like that. But I just wanted to ask you those questions.
Thank you very much.
SENATOR MCDONALD: Anything further?
If not? Thank you very much, your Honor.

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Lawyer Syndicate System Rigging?

Should the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 be used to shut down all three branches of Connecticut State Government for being a corrupt crime organization? Does it operate like a syndicate? Should members of this Official Mafia be arrested and prosecuted using RICO?

[click here] for:

Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Is there is racism, retaliation, rigging, and a government that is not representing the people run by lawyers?

Attorneys make money within the Judicial Branch, mostly in courts, “serving” clients. Lawyers elected to legislatures serving on Judiciary Committees, are lawyers first, elected officials second. Vetting judges who are in charge of their domain in the Judicial Branch is conflict of interest, plain and simple. When legislators are notified by constituents of police, prosecutorial, attorney, official, and judicial misconduct these legislators are entirely lacking. In the State of Connecticut, it is glaring.

Feb. 17, 2010 Legislative Judiciary Committee hearings were held in Hartford, Connecticut. The main agenda was the reappointment of judges. There are allegations of racism, unfairness, rigged cases, and a system run as a Police State. Most citizens don't have the patience to sit through 6 and a half hours of testimony. There are so many nuggets of proof of the abuse. More information, click:

Feb. 17, 2010, videos from hearings shot by Steven G. Erickson:

State Senator Eric Coleman starts his questioning of a judge about the unfairness of courts and about racism in the above video. If the courts are racist and unfair, they're unfair for all. There should be an honest investigation into how cases are really tried in Connecticut. The investigation needs to be independent and thorough. The abuse has going on too long.

Part 9, Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan re-appointment hearing. He is the administrative and Superior Court Judge Vernon Rockville GA #19 Connecticut, GA 13 Enfield, and is in charge of Habeas Corpus cases in Connecticut. Senior Judge on Civil Cases mediating.

Part 11, Judge Kevin Tierney

[source of below]
By Katherine1 on May 3, 2008 United States of America

The Superior Court in Stamford, CT, which saw the removal of two of its judges a few years ago, faces new charges.

( May 3, 2008 -- A motion is pending in that court to disqualify Judge Kevin Tierney for having out-of-court communications with one of the parties in a divorce case.

Judge Tierney signed a filed a Memorandum of Decision in a divorce case on December 20, 2007. According to the Motion, the plaintiff, husband, Peter McKenna, a retired partner of the prestigious NY law firm, Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, knew of this decision before it was signed and filed. The motion to disqualify Judge Tierney
Judicial Corruption in Stamford, Connecticut

included a check Attorney McKenna wrote and mailed to his wife, pro rating the alimony to the very day which it was terminated, five days before Judge Tierney's order was signed, filed and made public.

That decision left the wife destitute. Mr. McKenna received over $1.5 million dollars from his former law firm last year alone as share of profits. His wife, Katherine Saar Copperfield, has been ordered by Judge Tierney to convey her interest in the marital home in Greenwich, CT to her husband, Attorney McKenna, and to pay various bills, and transfer all the assets to Attorney McKenna, which as Judge Tierney found, will leave her with "no cash distribution."

During the trial, Judge Tierney allowed Attorney McKenna to break various laws, including automatic orders, several motions of contempt and misinformation by Attorney McKenna regarding his income on his financial affidavit. In addition, Judge Tierney finalized the trial without conducting a complete discovery of Attorney McKenna.

The Motion which has been made by the wife recites numerous acts of BIAS by the Judge including the failure to credit her for any monies she expended on the marital residence and various other one-sided actions. The wife is seeking the disqualification of Judge Tierney and a new trial before a new Judge.

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Robin Shapiro testifies about Domestic Violence in Connecticut. She tells about her experience with police and in courts

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Melissa Farley director of the Connecticut Judicial Branch, Steven G. Erickson, and Chris Kennedy"

click on links below for related documents

Judiciary Committee Testimony for 02/17/2010

HJ-00052 Linda J. Ares Palermo re Commissioner John A. Mastropietro HJ-00052 Linda Palermo re Commissioner John A. Mastropietro
HJ-00052 Mark Leighton re Commissioner John A. Mastropietro HJ-00052 William Lawler re Commissioner John Mastropietro
HJ-00055 Chris Kennedy re Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan HJ-00055 Steven G. Erickson re Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan
HJ-00055 Steven G. Erickson re Judge Kaplan SJ-00006 Linda J. Ares Palermo re Commissioner Scott A. Barton
SJ-00006 Linda Palermo re Commissioner Scott A. Barton SJ-00006 Mark Leighton re Commissioner Scott A. Barton
SJ-00010 Robin L. Shapiro (formerly Robin L. McHugh) re Karen Nash Sequino SJ-00011 Linda J. Ares Palermo re State Referee David W. Skolnick
SJ-00011 Linda Palermo re Commissioner David W. Skolnick

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Are judges the enablers of the nationwide banking scandal? Would a judge send out law enforcement out to a victim who had millions stolen by banksters and their judge associates, putting guns to his head telling him to be quiet? Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the 2nd video from the bottom:

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The below [found here]

If you offered most Connecticut residents a job for more than $150,000 a year inside the state's borders, they'd gladly accept — and probably wouldn't expect to be paid for driving to and from work.

But most people aren't judges or workers' compensation commissioners.

This elite group of more than 200 public officials stands out among the state workforce of about 50,000 in many ways — in the power and prestige of their positions, for example. But they also have the enviable distinction of receiving mileage reimbursements for daily commuting to and from their courthouses or offices.The 200 or so judges, as a group, received more than $853,000 in reimbursements for 1,496,697 miles — nearly all of them commuting miles — in the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The 16 members of the Workers' Compensation Commission, as a group, got nearly $76,000 — an average of $4,750 for each commissioner.

Both elite groups get reimbursed in accordance with IRS guidelines at a current rate of 55 cents a mile.

All of the above has relevance during these days of a state budget crisis and extraordinary efforts to scrape up savings anywhere possible to plug multibillion-dollar projected deficits.

But during the recently concluded eight-month budget standoff between the Rell administration and the Democrat-controlled legislature, no one said a word about the $930,000 that taxpayers were supplying to judges and workers' comp commissioners whose annual salaries range from about $145,000 to $155,000.


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Video uploaded Dec. 22, 2009:

If Connecticut eliminated a US Congressperson position, to redistrict for less of them, it means population has gone down. Why is it that judicial branch positions have more than doubled and spending has gone on like no tomorrow with taxpayers’ money?


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Is this what passed for good policing in Connecticut?:

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Arrest Scumbag Officials

Text with video:
More info:

I, Steven G. Erickson, am asking the USDOJ, the US Department of Justice, to look into the Feb. 17, 2010, Connecticut Judiciary hearings involving Connecticut State Senator John A. Kissel and Judge Jonathan J. Kaplan for rigging a hearing, perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, acting unconstitutionally, and/or other crimes.

Should the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 be used to prosecute these official criminals?

In Connecticut police and the courts seem to facilitate prostitution, drug dealing, and organized crime while retaliating against "Big Mouth" citizens who complain.

During World War II in Honolulu, Hawaii, prostitutes actually went on strike. The military and police ran the brothels. So they profited and ran illegal organized crime type businesses.

Prostitutes had a list of rules such as not owning cars or homes, not to go on beaches, not to marry soldiers, and many other rules. Women who violated rules were shipped out of Hawaii by police. More info:

So, for authorities, the CIA, the FBI, State Police, judges, and others to be involved in organized crime, heroin, crack cocaine, murder for hire, and other rackets is not to far from a fast forward from Hawaii. If there were justice in the US, Ronald Regan, would have been arrested for being a drug lord thug.

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My email:

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